Keeping the birds out?

glenn9643(z8 MS)March 13, 2007

How do you do it?

I've tried the bird netting and have mixed feelings about it. The primary culprits in the past have been mockingbirds and threshers, which are mid-size birds.

I posted a couple of weeks ago about planting figs in a long row on a raised bed, about 8-10' apart, and am still considering that.

After they begin to produce figs, if I want any I'll need to do something to keep the birds out. What I'm thinking about is building a relatively lightweight framework to support "chicken-wire" 10' high and about 12' wide over the fig tree row. I will drop the wire netting down the sides as well, but have it temporarily anchored so that I can push it aside for maintenance such as grass cutting. I believe that I can keep the figs pruned so that the 10' high X 12' wide will be adequate.

I realize that the bird netting is a smaller mesh than chicken-wire and before I make the plunge I would like to know if you think the chicken-wire will keep the birds out...

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pitangadiego(San Diego, CA)

Bird net works well for me, but it must completely seal the tree, down to the ground or trunk. There are also two grades, regular, and an architectural which is much more sturdy. Make a pole of 1" PVC, and put a 2" cap on the end of it, with a bolt protruding about 1/2". Use this to lift it up and over the tree.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 9:18PM
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glenn9643(z8 MS)

I'm retired army, so I've raised a lot of netting (camouflage); I'm not confident that 1" PVC will withstand our wind gusts from the south, and it will also become brittle from exposure to sunlight. How does the bird netting that you've used hold up to UV deterioration? My thinking was that the galvanized chicken-wire would be good for years once it was erected, and I was thinking of using treated 4x4 posts with treated 2x4 crossmembers to support the wire mesh.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 10:17PM
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I believe the plastic electrical conduit is more UV resistant than the white PVC. I was planning on erecting netting supported on PVC over my trees. My thought was to build panels that could be attached together to surround the tree during fruiting, and removed/stored afterwards.

Given your background, you have more experience with wind problems than I. I would have thought that the netting (even >1" mesh) would give very little wind resistance and the frame could be secured to the ground with 8" sod pins.

Any thoughts?


    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 9:06AM
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glenn9643(z8 MS)

The camouflage netting that I referred to is much heavier than the bird netting and probably has more wind resistance.
I think that your plan will work for netting individual trees, but the netting must be supported away from the tree to allow growth without the leaves tangling in the webbing.

If I'm successful with my current rootings I'll have in the neighborhood of thirty trees to plant, and rather than try to net each individually I'm trying to figure how to net the entire row of trees. I would prefer a product that will survive the elements for several years so that I can just leave it up year-round, at least the top cover.
We live on twenty acres about eight miles out of town so it's not like I need to be concerned with what the neighbors think, and the area is a couple of hundred feet from the house screened by some Lelands and my shop.
Possibilities for framework are 4x4 posts on each side of the row spaced 12' apart down the row, with 2x4's spanning between the posts across the row and along both sides of the row. Another possibility is to use pipe uprights and steel conduit for the upper crossmembers. I'm thinking to attach the wire (or webbing) permanently along the top and down about six feet from the top, and for the bottom 4-6' use netting so I can tie it up when I need to mow around it.
All of my trees are in the ground, and the prospect of netting individual trees is unwelcome if I can figure a way around it that will work.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 10:42AM
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Glenn, Perhaps another way to skin the cat would be to plant your trees using a different system. There was a thread several months ago about an intensive system of growing figs in Japan. Basically the trees were planted eighteen feet apart, and two branches were bent nine feet horizontally, 180 degrees (9+9=18, after all, it is pi Day). Actual fig production would be on three foot vertical branches growing upwards from the horizontal branches, and these vertical branches could be pruned for the production of either breba or main crop figs, or both. Although 18ft apart in rows, the rows themselves could be in pairs about 2 to 4 ft apart. Thus the necessary bird covering could be linear, and much shorter.
As with all ideas I'm sure there are inherent problems, but it is something to consider in view of your problem.....Elder (Lou)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 1:14PM
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glenn9643(z8 MS)

I think I found the thread you were referring to.

An interesting read. My plans were to plant the trees about 10' apart on a raised bed and prune to keep them limited to about 8'high and 10-12' wide, mulching the entire bed heavily to retain moisture and help control weeds. Space isn't a problem for me but it seems that planting as I have described should make it simpler to control bird intruders while allowing adequate production.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2007 at 2:43PM
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I have one huge fig tree. I planted it from a stick. With all the rain the tree is about 25 feet tall now. I have tried to trim it but it keeps getting bigger and bigger. It is the biggest fig tree I have ever seen. The problem is the birds have also discovered it and they love figs. They are mockingbirds. A nursery told me to hang tin foil covered water bottles with rocks in them and this would scare them away. They only laughed at me. Where would I find the net that you are talking about? I would love to make fig jam like my mom made when I was a kid. The birds are eating them like mad. When I stand right next to the tree and try to scare them away they do not even move. Can someone give some advice on this matter?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 10:28AM
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glenn9643(z8 MS)

For me, the size of your tree would be undesirable. There's no way to harvest your figs at that height if you didn't have a bird problem. If I had your problem I would drastically prune the tree after it goes dormant and try to maintain the future height at about 10' which would allow harvesting the figs at the top with a small ladder, and also be easier to cover with netting in the future.
In this area I've found bird netting at Lowes, Home Depot, and local garden centers, but am not familiar with the heavier stuff that Jon mentioned above.
If you have further questions you might get a better response by posting a new thread describing the issue. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 10:51AM
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pitangadiego(San Diego, CA) OR

Nird Be Gone has some that is 1/4" mesh, which will also keep out fig beetles here in San Diego.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 10:42PM
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Thank you for all the info. Now I know what I need to know to protect my figs. Aloha

    Bookmark   July 11, 2011 at 6:39PM
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